Periodical cicada, like this magicicada septendecim, are emerging four years ahead of schedule.

Daily Journal staff report

Four years ahead of schedule, two large groups of periodical cicadas are beginning to emerge throughout Illinois. In a time of pandemic and social unrest, the appearance is another surprise in a spring ripe with unexpected twists.

Periodical cicadas will continue to emerge until late-June. University of Illinois Extension provides additional information in its online Home, Yard and Garden newsletter

“A periodical cicada emergence can be an exciting event to witness,” said Sarah Hughson, of the Illinois Pesticide Safety Education Program. “This year, two large broods are emerging four years early and will encompass much of the state, so many people may be able to watch this special event in their own yards.”

Brood XIII includes three species of 17-year cicadas emerging in northern Illinois and parts of central Illinois, and Brood XIX includes four species of 13-year cicadas emerging in southern Illinois and parts of central Illinois, Hughson said.

Cicada nymphs live below ground for most of their lives, sucking fluids from tree roots, unnoticed until they emerge. When the emergence begins, cicada nymphs leave the soil, climb a few feet up a tree or shrub and molt to their adult stage, leaving their shed skin behind.

Adult cicadas usually remain near their molting site to allow their bodies time to harden, before moving farther up the tree, Hughson said. As adults, periodical cicadas feed very little, devoting their time to reproduction.

Adult males will call to females with a shrill buzzing song.

“In areas with low populations of cicadas, the calls can be a nice summer chorus, but in areas with heavy populations, some may find the calling quite loud,” Hughson said.

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